Mangroves of the tropical coasts are the most productive ecosystems of the world. The single largest Mangrove forest in the world the Sundarbans is the lifeline of approximately 3.5 millions of coastal people in Bangladesh. It is a UNESCO declared World Heritage Site and RAMSAR wetland site. Sundarbans mangrove forest has substantial ecological and economic importance at local, national and global scales. Mangrove is a vast subject and to know the mangroves, it needs study, training and research. Many people of the country want to know about the mangroves but there is no scope of learning mangroves and there is lack of materials on it in Bangladesh. Nature Experience program is a part of study and it can be a great medium to provide mangrove education to the learners. Moreover, people living near the Sundarbans are very poor and most of them depend on the natural resources of the Sundarbans mangrove forest. Their monthly income is 40 to 100 UDS. They have profound knowledge over mangrove forest; because, they grew up with mangroves. But they have no place to share their knowledge and experience. Realizing the importance of Nature Experience Programs on Sundarbans mangrove ecosystem and engagement of forest dwellers with it, Bangladesh Environment and Development Society (BEDS) and Japan Environmental Education Forum (JEEF) have been implementing a project entitled ‘The development & implementation of nature experience programs for biodiversity conservation in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh’ with the financial assistance of Japan Fund for Global Environment (JFGE) since April 2019.
Goal of the project is to Improve the livelihoods of the local people and conserve the biodiversity of the Sundarbans mangrove ecosystem of Bangladesh. Objectives of the project are to provide alternative livelihood to the forest dwellers, to develop skills of the underprivileged forest dwellers, to introduce a new trend of study tour among the city students and to conserve the biodiversity of the Sundarbans mangrove forest.
Under this project, a Nature Experience Programs Committee has been formed. 26 forest dwellers (fisherman, nipa collectors and honey collectors) have been trained on how to conduct the Nature Experience Program. Existing Cyclone Shelter and Training Center of BEDS is being used for the residential facilities of the visitors. The Nature Experience Programs Committee members have organized two pilot programs so far. The committee members income is increasing gradually.